Sunday, August 28, 2016

A Week in Writing #105

Nothing like getting all dressed up and having no place to go. Finished the comic book on Sunday, but it was too big to email and I haven't heard back from the man I want to send it to about an alternative method. Got an email last Friday from an agent about sending her my manuscript, but they neglected to open my online submission so I can do it. Add to that and we haven't heard from the artist or colorist for a couple of days, even after pinging them. As Tom Petty once sang "waiting is the hardest part."

Speaking of waiting for no reason, Wednesday night got my thumbdrive back. Apparently the guy I gave it to never looked at it. I know he blames the FBI raid, see previous post, but in reality he's also said he was going to look at it on Thursday, a couple of days before the raid. Then he claimed he was having laptop issues and even after the raid he said he had access to two different computers, but still a week later, never had a chance to look at it.  Funny thing, when I was going to reuse the thumb drive, I noticed that there was an entire movie on the drive, Lost in Translation. Wasn't there when I gave it to him. He claims someone else did it, he's not saying who or why the thumbdrive was left unattended.

As a writer you want to share what you've written and get feedback, but there's a certain trust involved. As a reader you're supposed to safeguard the writer's work, not walk away and leave it up on someone else's computer.

Better things happened on Friday. To start with, the agent who contacted me through Submittable, got back to me and opened the portal. It was only after I uploaded the manuscript and closed the portal did I realize that they prefer Times New Roman and I had the manuscript formatted to Courier New. I wrote an email write away, but I haven't heard anything since. Not sure if they don't read emails over the weekend or what. Hopefully, it should be okay. Else, as I wrote her, I'd be happy to redo.

Also met on Friday with the development guy at the Comic-Con channel about From Fan to Creator. I don't think anything is imminent with it, but he didn't totally discourage me, even saying that he thought it was a strong pitch, especially for the first one I'd ever done. The channel hasn't gotten to Comic Books, which he hopes it will; nor are they looking at the moment for competition shows. But he did say he has it in a stack to look at if and when the time comes. He also asked me what else I was working on and I mentioned the comic book and gave him a copy of the Powerpoint I'd made the weekend before. Can't hurt. Of course, when I was making more copies this weekend, I found I had grabbed the wrong image for one of the pages. It's always something.

Things have been coming in dribs and drabs on the comic book. We're going back and forth with the artist on a couple of panels on one page. Still in the layout/pencil stage, so changes are relatively easy. Still, days go by sometimes between pages and I'm never sure why that is. I know I'm not the only paying client, but I don't know why there are several day gaps in between.

The colorist hasn't gotten past page 1. There have been consistency errors again. We compared page 20 to page 1 and the coloring on one of the characters seems to have changed. I think he's fixing, but he's even harder to figure out than the artist. I see he's looking for more clients, but I don't want to feel like I'm getting shafted as a result. During the summer, I had written to both with the stretch goal of being done by Labor Day. That looks highly unlikely given the rate we're going. I plan to write to both on Labor Day asking them to pick up the pace. The first part took far too long to complete.

My letterer's computer troubles continue. Geek Squad, where we took it after HP was of no help, even though it's under warranty, kept telling us to buy the wrong replacement parts. I don't understand why I have to buy these parts in the first place. When I take my car in for repair and they say I need a new radiator, they don't expect me to buy one and bring it in. Why does Geek Squad expect me to buy the parts, in this case a solid state harddrive? First they told us to buy any solid state hard drive, wrong. It had to be a particular type, which they told us and we bought. Only, you guessed it wrong. Today Paul's computer was having the same issue (can mine be far behind) and we found out the part we had ordered was also wrong. Turns out Geek Squad had two drives that would work, so the repairs should be done soon. But what a hassle and run around.

I began this week to rewrite the synopsis for Public and Private, but I haven't had time to finish it yet. I think I need a better one for some other agents I want to query. I'll admit to getting a little confused when an agent asks for a synopsis, since I don't know how long of a one they want. So I'm going to write the best one I can and use that. I actually think I was on to something with the rewrite.

Pubished a review on Trophy Unlocked for Titanic (1943), a Nazi propaganda film about the sinking of the famous ocean liner in 1912. Apparently, the English were a bunch of capitalist cowards and the Germans, mostly in steerage, were brave and honorable. Sort of an odd film. No new reviews this week.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

A Week in Writing #104

Took a break from the comic book on Monday and tried to play catch up with the queries for Public and Private. Well, no surprise the three outstanding queries went unresponded to by their "expiration" date. One of them has a follow-up mechanism via, so I did that and on Friday, I did hear back from her. She asked me to send the entire manuscript on, but I think she has to open the submission for me to do that. Spent an hour or so spell-checking before I realized I couldn't submit it by myself. A bit of a disappointment, but happy that someone is asking to see it. Of course, I will update here no matter how it goes.

Made updates to my query list based on the Writer's Digest issue. Going to give a couple of agents a second try, though I'd be pleasantly surprised if the outcome was different. Decided this would be a good time to rewrite my query letter since it appears to have underperformed so far. There is actually a sample "successful" query letter in the issue, so I'm going to try to mimic that in this go around of queries.

On Tuesday night sent out my first query using the new letter. Actually sent it to an agent I had met at a Writer's Digest conference several years back and who ended up rejecting the book I pitched. But I thought it might be an opportunity to try the new format, since I'm going in expecting a rejection, based on our track record.

The Trophy Unlocked blog posted it's 700th review during the week: DmC Devil May Cry: Definitive Edition. I think it's an important milestone for the blog, though without those Russian hackers our pageviews seem to be down. What have we done to upset the Ruskies?

On the subject of the other blog, Wednesday night while as I was preparing to send queries, I remembered I had to put up a post for Saturday. Even though it was already written, editing and adding photos took close to an hour. I did publish How I Won the War (1967) as this week's Saturday Morning Review.

Later in the afternoon, we published a review of Kubo and the Two Strings, which is currently out in theaters now. Interestingly, both films have a tenuous relationship to the Beatles. John Lennon stars in How I Won the War and Kubo uses a very effective version of George Harrison's While My Guitar Gently Weeps over the closing credits.

Managed to do a little more work on my review for Cafe Society, but it's going to have to wait until it's out of theaters. Also, planning on reviewing D.W. Griffith's Intolerance (1916) as Labor Day will mark its 100th Anniversary. Have never seen the movie and frankly I'm a little concerned about watching it, but that's fodder for a future post.

Did more follow up this week on my From Fan to Creator pitch. I know you're thinking it's been 10 months, if there was any interest I'd know by now and that's probably true. On the other hand, I get the sense I'm getting a little of the brushoff; since I'm an employee my idea isn't really being taken all that seriously. Well, it turns out with a little presistence and a lot of patience, you can get what you want. Finally able to nail the development guy down to an actual meeting, but it isn't until next week. I'll be sure to update this blog, so check back.

Thursday brought more pages from the artist on PowerSquared, layouts for pages 5 through 7. Our comments, at least we think so, were pretty minor. I'm never sure if we're actually pissing off (can I write that in a blog?) the artist or the colorist for that matter. I don't know what their expectations are, whether or not they think we should be happy with whatever it is they send us? Or are they expecting comments and feedback? There's a part of me that would like to know, but then we want what we want. I try to be nice about asking, but in the end, I am paying for it and as long as what I'm asking for isn't outrageous, I don't think I'm asking for too much.

Speaking of PowerSquared, we had a sort of a frustrating weekend. My goal is to wrap this up on Sunday and get it out, but:

My letterer's computer is in the shop, which I think we can work around, but it is an unwelcomed complication. Maybe that's the beauty of cloud-based software as hopefully he'll be able to continue making final changes on my computer.

Our colorist doesn't seem to be able to make a change we've been asking for for about 10 days now. Not sure if he's being obstenate or he simply can't make it work. We're going with the best one we have.

And the guy we gave a version to on Wednesday to give us his opinion, not only still hadn't four days later, but nearly lost the thumbdrive it was on to the FBI. Apparently they raided his home looking for pirated movies (his roommate apparently has 2000 illegal films on various harddrives). A really colorful story, but he didn't get it done. I spoke to him on Saturday after the raid and even though he still has access to a computer and knows what we're trying to do, the soonest he says he'll get back to me is Sunday night, which is too late for me. Sometimes the guy with the colorful personal story isn't the one you can rely on for help in a pinch.

All that said, we decided we'd taken this version as far as we could. With a few tweaks to the best cover, we put it to bed. Spent a good part of Sunday afternoon making pdfs out of TIFFs, again. Found a simpler way to do it, which made the pdfs smaller, but combined they are still too big to email to someone I'd like to look at it. Emailed him to see if there is an alternative method I could use that he'd be comfortable with.

So overall, I think I made some progress: got a response back from an agent, set a meeting with development on my months old pitch and finished a version of part one of the comic book. But with writing the only real progress is getting published, something that still eludes me.

Maybe next week...

Sunday, August 14, 2016

A Week in Writing #103

Sometimes I feel like I am my own worst enemy. I suffer from insomnia and have been fairly successful of late in regulating it. But the Sunday night into Monday is always the hardest for me. I'm not sure why, but it seems no matter what I do, I can't get to sleep. Sometimes it just takes a while longer, but there are nights when it is a no-go. You can imagine work the next day is not much fun, especially since I have an hour commute each way. I try coffee to keep me going, which doesn't help when I need to get to sleep the next night. It can really be a real hellish circle.

My mind won't turn off. I'm not sure if it's because I'm supposed to have lunch on Monday with someone I haven't seen in months and haven't really talked to in years. I mean we've sent emails back and forth, but never really anything of substance. We sort of ran into each other and made the "let's have lunch" commitment. That was literally months ago and it is only now that we've been able to meet up. The last time I was going to have lunch with someone like that I couldn't sleep the night before either. Am I such a slave to routine and anything that changes that throws me off?

The worst thing is, that it affects my writing, as I don't have it in me the next night to really do any deep thinking. I'll try, I sort of have to, but that doesn't mean there will be much progress and I feel the need to make progress.

Spent most of Monday evening working on nagging coloring issues. Not sure if the lack of sleep played a role or not, but got very frustrated that we're still seeing the same issues that we've been seeing over and over again. Not sure where the disconnect is, but I started to lose it. Things weren't helped by my computer acting up on me. I kept trying to add a jpeg to an email which apparently some software didn't like. Had to take another approach, but didn't need the added frustration.

Also, did a rough sketch to try to convey to our artist what we want that we're not getting. We'll see if a picture is worth a thousand words, since I couldn't get him to understand through writing it out.

Still having trouble getting to sleep. Not sure if I'm worrying about this comic book too much, but I can't turn my brain off night two. Did manage to get a little more sleep, though.

Tuesday night went a lot easier. Overnight into Tuesday morning, the colorist submitted corrected pages 11 and 13, so was able to pass them on to the letterer. He also included a corrected jpeg of the cover, which I forwarded on to someone else for comment.

The artist submitted a better page 4, though there was still some communication breakdown with panel 3, but I think it's quickly fixable.

Tried to use, but am frustrated by their submission process. Felt like I was always logging in, but not getting to where I was supposed to be able to. Their help is a delayed process, so I'm moving on without them.

With the comic book sort of in the background for the night, I'm able to get back to Simple Sins' revisions.

Wednesday night was slow for me. Nothing new to go over with the comic book, just waiting to get feedback on the cover. I spent what time I did on posting the Saturday Morning Review on Trophy Unlocked. I like to do that on Wednesdays so there's no real rush to edit it before it's published. This one is about the original Jurassic Park film.

Too tired to do much else. It was one of those nights where I woke up next to my laptop. The lack of sleep, even though it's gotten better every night, finally caught up to me.

Thursday morning, I emailed our creative team, the artist about new pages, the colorist about the cover, and the letterer about the tagline we want to use. Paul is always a part of every decision and while I try to involve him in most of the emails, I wanted to get these out before going to work; never sure what anyone's work schedule will be like, especially those on the other side of the dateline.

Thursday night was mostly spent on the comic book. Hopefully, we're getting close to putting Part One to bed. Last minute edit needed to the cover and since the colorist hadn't sent it yet, I didn't feel too bad asking him to make the change, Also prepped and sent him the first four pages with hopefully a detailed description on what we wanted the coloring to look like. Would like to avoid the coloring problems we had with Part One.

Friday is traditionally not a big writing day. As a family we watch a movie and eat pizza. This week's movie was the original Pete's Dragon. Not a real winner as far as we were concerned. Not sure if it's worth writing a review about.

Saturday morning finally saw Woody Allen's Cafe Society. Rather than doing a while it's still in the theater sort of review, thought I would take my time with this one and do a more detailed write up, which I might post after the film is out of the theaters and streaming on Amazon Prime, which is its eventual destination. So far, I've written about 1500 words, not sure how long it will get. Did post a Saturday morning review of Jurassic Park, a movie we watched to prep for last summer's Jurassic World.

Trophy Unlocked is coming up on its 700th review, an honor that goes to the founder of the blog. It's his due. I'm sort of holding things up, because I'm only about half way done with reading it. Will of course, tweet out when it's posted which should be sometime this week.

Did have a chance to go through the new issue of Writer's Digest. Every so often, they have an issue about finding an agent. I went through the list and marked ones that I would add to my query list, though I didn't get around to that on Sunday, which I had hoped to do. And even though we'd planned to stay home all day, there is always something to do. Today it was taking care of some bees that appeared to have been displaced when we had a tree trimmed on Friday. Priorities.

Spent a couple of hours, it seemed, working on making .pdf and jpegs out of the Tiffs for PowerSquared. Had to use my old computer, since it still has a suite of Adobe software on it. Not looking forward to having to rent software by the month, which is where it's going these days. Trying to put together a .pdf to show people. After the first go around, the file was a gig, much too large. Redid it with a low res files, rather than high res and it's less than 600 megs. An improvement, but I'm not sure what file type to send, so I also made jpegs while I was at it. With all that, I still have to do the cover when it is finally finished.

Next week, I want to get back to the queries and spend a little more time with Simple Sins than with PowerSquared. But as always, we'll see.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

A Week in Writing #102

Finally got back to looking at my query list. So far only one has expired. For this agent, in particular, this is three books and no response to any query. Maybe my query letter didn't make him feel good enough about his choice of professions. Of course, not hearing back at all really makes me feel good about mine. There are three more queries that have a week to go before they're ripe. Honestly, I'm not enthusiastic about these; probably would have heard something by now if they were interested. But in the spirit of fair play, I'll let these run their course before I give up completely.

Spent a lot of time, again, this week, on the comic book, though I can actually report we're getting close to the end of Part One. Coloring has been a bigger issue than I would have hoped, but except for one page and the cover, we're just about there. Now, it's back to the letterer, who has to redo much of his work thanks to file transfers, etc. There are a few people who have asked me about the comic book and I feel sort of lame telling them that it is still coming together. Seems like I've been saying that for months, but it has only been a couple of weeks. Still, I'm anxious to get this behind us and get some feedback on our efforts so far.

Part Two, which started out like gangbusters, has sort of stalled temporarily on page 4, panel 2. Trying to get the artist to understand our vision and we're not quite there. It's not really his fault, but these images are really important to the story and were major pieces in our pitch about the project when we were attending the Comic Creator Connection workshops. Really want to nail these for that reason.

Still reading Dynamic Story Creation. My goal is a chapter a night. Haven't really had an epiphany about my writing, but it is still early.

Did manage to make some progress on the rewrites for Simple Sins. At least I got through the first section where I had to actually write new dialogue and action. That had been a hurdle too high for me last week. I finally feel like I'm getting my land legs back under me after Comic-Con. Still have work to do and I still need to get back to my editor to let him know I hit a snag. Now it's me not communicating.

I also want to follow up with the Comic-Con HQ people about From Fan To Creator. My dream has been dampened but not extinguished and I really want to have a meeting about it. Maybe it goes on the backburner, but I'd like to know the strengths and weaknesses of the pitch, seeing how it was my first.

Published a couple of reviews this weekend. The Saturday Morning Review, as I've been calling it, was Hard to Handle (1933), another early James Cagney picture. On Sunday, in an effort to stay current, published one about Suicide Squad.

Trophy Unlocked is coming up on its 700th review, which is a sort of an accomplishment. Still need to figure out a movie for the milestone review. Open for suggestions if anyone wants to leave a comment (hint!).

Pageviews have also been way up recently on Trophy Unlocked, but I suspect it's Russian hackers or some such, that are inflating the numbers. Or maybe, we've just caught on there and Russian readers have gravitated towards our unbiased reviews. Yeah, it's probably that first thing I mentioned.